SciFi fans and devotees of the movie Blade Runner will be interested in this unique novel by Philip K. Dick. I had been wanting to read this novel for many years, but finding a reasonably priced copy proved difficult. As a fan of Blade Runner I wanted to experience the original source material for the movie–this novel.
Quite a surprise.
The story finds Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Dept., living in a post-apocalyptic Earth after World War Terminal. Most everyone of means and ability have departed the forsaken Earth for colonies elsewhere in the solar system.
A group of eight rebel androids have escaped one of the colonies and have come to Earth illegally. Rick’s job is to hunt them down and kill (retire) them. Actually, a superior bounty hunter within the department had been assigned the task, but was horribly wounded by the third android he’d tracked down. Thus, the job falls to Deckard.
The key delineation between humans and the current sophisticated Nexus-6 androids lies in the body’s unconscious responses of empathy, which are elicited through a battery of questions-the Voight-Kampff test.
Deckard must first go to Rosen Associates, the maker of the androids, and make certain the Voight-Kampff test will work on the Nexus-6. At company headquarters he meets Rachael Rosen, the supposed niece of the founder, and Deckard shows that she is an android, much to the discomfort of Rachael and the elder Rosen.
Then, the hunt begins.
Empathy, especially for animals, plays a strong underlying theme within the story, which is much more philosophical, and perhaps spiritual, than Blade Runner. Also, in the novel, it is Deckard, not Roy Baty (android leader), who undergoes a significant transformation in his character.
There are many more differences between the movie and the novel, some nuanced, others quite huge.
Not wanting to provide any spoilers, I must admit that I was baffled by the ending chapters. I guess I’m not smart enough to comprehend what Mr. Dick was trying to convey.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. 4 Stars.